A vast 2.5 million mile network of pipelines crisscrosses the United States – transporting hazardous liquid and natural gas products between wells, processing facilities and customers. Most of our domestic energy is delivered this way.
These pipelines are considered safer than train or truck transport – and cause far fewer injuries and death. But there are safety concerns, including terrorism. Pipe ruptures, leaks and explosions in the past decade caused an average of 76 deaths and serious injuries each year. Compare that to the number of U.S. workers killed on the job in 2011: 4,609.
Two developments raise new questions: A boom in natural gas from new-technology shale extraction will add significantly to the pipeline network. And there’s the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which if completed in full would run from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast.
Check out our photo gallery for more on U.S. pipeline safety. See “What Do Others Say?” for more perspective, then add to the discussion below. Are you comfortable with these pipelines? Are they safe enough?